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Alondra Nelson Education. (2012) Alondra Nelson ('Body and Soul The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination').

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America 22, Panthers 5, Seattle 5, Us 5, Bobby Seale 3, Washington 3, Oakland 3, New Orleans 3, Emily Dickinson 3, Spock 2, Katrina 2, Alondra Nelson 2, Kenya 2, Tarbell 1, Ben Franklin 1, Randy 1, An Ngo 1, Valorize 1, Roberta Shaffer 1, Whitman 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Alondra Nelson  Education.  (2012) Alondra Nelson ('Body and  
   Soul The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical...  

    September 4, 2012
    7:30 - 8:00am EDT  

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the rebellion was beginning, the push for independence was beginning and the generalization he was a part of that. >> host: how long were you in kenya and what did you see? what was it like to be over there? >> guest: kenya was one of the great experiences of my life. every day was unforgettable. we were there for about two >> you can watch this and other programs on booktv.org. booktv has been traveling the country speaking to several professors. this month we visited columbia university and sat down with a longer nose and to talk about her book, "body and soul." this is about 15 minutes.
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>> host: professor a longer nose in, author of "body and"ñ#& soul." i was the black panther party founded originally? >> guest: it was founded originally because of their dissatisfaction with what race relations and economic injustice issues were in the united states in 1966. so what's interesting about the black panther party and the founding period is that it happens, they were found but after some of the great successes of the civil rights movement. so the legislation that brings up an rights act and the civil rights act. so i think with 40 years of vision, we can see that part of what the panthers were doing were responding to what was left undone by these important civil rights movements advancements. >> host: what was left undone? >> guest: people were still hungry. people still lack basic what they are said human rights. so food, clothing and also health care. just basic fundamental things
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people, particularly poor african-americans drama who were the founders? >> guest: bobby seale and qb newton who are interesting, both because they are historical figures but because they were migrants from the south of the black panthers for his part in a great migration story. their families come from texas and louisiana to the bay area, to oakland, and they find themselves in the center of history. a couple decades later than one your book focuses on medical care. you write that the black panther party, the panthers were errors to a mostly uncharted tradition of african-american health politics. what does that mean? >> guest: it means we haven't looked closely enough at the fact that civil rights tradition and even if we just think about the 20th century, because with always a medical activist and tradition, so that the things we
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understand, the forms of discrimination, jim crow, forms of segregation that we understand is part of the early 20 century, african-american life, also included health care. so if we go back across the 20 center to the organization and initiative that we think is being important for the civil rights tradition, health care is always there. so one way i think about the black panther party is to put them in this genealogy of people like marcus garvey and what a cadre of nurses, people like student nonviolent cornyn committee but also had a medical alarm that tended to both activists who were hurt during the civil rights and also local community. so we need to understand the black panthers turn to health care is a something that will strategic an intro to what they were dealing with in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but also as part of a larger tradition and black activism
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responding to medical discrimination. >> host: so what was, what transpired in the black panther party and medical care? >> guest: lots of interesting things. they had by the late 1960s a national network of health clinics. it was mandated in the party by 1970 that every chapter of the party, if you're going to be a black panther party, by 1969 the resource bringing up all over because the panthers had captured the attention of a whole generation that disaffected young people. if you're going to start a chapter you have to have a health care clinic. they also within these clinics, it was often just basic preventive care. is often referrals to care for people who had more serious issues, and they also did a thing quite half breaking things like genetic screening. so they did genetic counseling and genetic screen for sickle cell anemia well before it was a national issue. while before we were talking about sickle cell anemia as we are today. and they were also involved in
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early attempts to challenge kind of sociobiology. so early '70s models that were linking black biology, black bodies to issues like violence and other kinds of behavior problems turn what where did they get the funding? >> guest: the funding came from all sorts of places. they were very sort of strategic in the way they got the funding. so for example, in winston-salem north dilemma that ran in and of its service. and part of that money came from the diocese of north atlanta. they also solicited donations from medical supply companies, for example. they were donations from some of the doctors i interviewed who worked with the black panther party would get donations from hospitals or the medical centers where they were residents and the like. and they just really pulled it together. these were very much shoestring operations that were really dependent on local sort of collaborations, including particular collaborations with other health care activists and
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young doctors, nurses, technicians in the health professions who share the black panther party's perspective and desire for social change. >> host: who were some the doctors that worked on these health clinics? >> guest: one interesting position is a german named terry cooper was a psychiatrist but he helped to establish what was called the free peoples medical clinic in los angeles that was located in central athens. and was founded in 1969, december 1969. he was at the time, i think he was a resident, psychiatry resident at ucla, and so he would help the panthers to start the clinic and he would actually going to be involved with other panther activities over the course of his career. there was also a very interesting physician who never joined the party named small, he was huey newton's personal physician. he was the personal physician of angela davis when she was in jail. he also saw george jackson.
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he was involved in the party, never joined the party. this was at a time when he was living in oakland and was an intern at oakland's highland hospital. he helped the party to sort a strategize rent getting the sickle cell anemia program organize, and the southwest, he helped the party. you'd go around the chapters educating the rank-and-file members of the party about sickle cell anemia. >> host: so, professor nelson, why are you writing about this now? is a because of the health care debate we just had? >> guest: i think the book is in concert with health care debate. part of what's interesting is 45 years after the black panther party was founded we still have some of the fundamental issues they're talking about are the issue, the return of the repressed. is health care right, you know, who should pay for the court should ever have survey base line level health care? these were precisely the issues
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that 45 years ago the panthers were talking about. but then they seemed far more radical. to some they still seem radical right now but it's interesting that these that sort of shifted into mainstream discourse in a particular sort of way. i think also i'm writing about this now because i was initially interested in writing about the hiv/aids epidemic in black communities, and the difficulty or the struggles of the black communities face in combating the epidemic. in the 1980s when it emerged, given the sort of history and trajectory of civil rights struggle and the success of the civil rights movement a part of what that history tells us is that like commuters have been very effective in organizing and mobilizing around various sorts of issues, particularly in the late 20th century. and so i wondered where did all of that energy, those institutions, those networks go. by the time i got to the 1980s. so that's why begin. and i think like many historical
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or sociological project you find yourself going back 10 years or so to see what happened just before. i ended up with a black panther party and sickle cell anemia, and then the other chapters from their. >> host: once the legacy of some of these free clinics? do they still exist? >> guest: they don't exist as panther clicks but there are two legacies that are worth noting. one is that some of my research was done at the university of washington and the special collections because there was a priest special black panther chapter in seattle for many years to part of doing my research, historical research was also interviews, but i also walked around the neighborhoods and sort of try to get a sense of where the clinic headquarters, where the clinic was headquartered, the sort of things. it was 40 years after but just ghana get a sense of what he might have felt like. in the course of doing that walking around in seattle, i discovered the carolyn downs medical, family medical center. which is now an ngo. it's a nonprofit medical center
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in seattle that's named for a former member of the black panther party. and so one of the questions i get asked about this book is why didn't we know anything about the black panthers health activism? one of the curious things in the seattle case is who you have a clinic that is named for the former black panther. you walk into the clinic and there's a photograph of your. there's a plaque that says this clinic is working in the tradition of the black panther party, very much sort of valorize is and recognizes the contributions of the black panther party and the fight against medical discrimination, and the struggle to expand health care access. and so the clinic still exist today. it's a sliding scale community clinic that serves all sorts of people, and the city of seattle. another legacy, a more bittersweet legacy is the formation of the common ground health collective which exists now as an ngo in louisiana. in 2005, after hurricane
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katrina, in august 2005, as you will recall there was a health care to structure collapsed in new orleans. so many people were left sadly in places like charity hospitals, a lot of the first responders, doctors and nurses were allowed to leave the city, and so you had not only the total infrastructure of new orleans collapsing, but the health care of the structure more particularly. and within a few days of hurricane katrina and sort of washing through new orleans, three activists start the common ground collective and they start providing very basic preliminary health care services for the people that remain in the city. and one of these three people as a gentle been named my leak it was a member of the black panther party in new orleans. when you talk to him about starting the common ground clinic with these two other people, a doctor and another activist -- excuse me, a nurse and another activist, he says very sweetly the reason he felt like he could do this, he could
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pull this off and in the face of all this catastrophe all around them is that they have been very similar work in the black panther party. so we have to understand, you know, these two clinics operating today as distinct legacies of the black panther party self activism. >> host: alondra nelson, is there a distrust in the african-american community toward health care, and i hate to healthy, but health care, and nothing specifically of the tuskegee syphilis experiment? >> guest: absolutely. i think it's a particularly important question, because the 48th anniversary of tuskegee is this july. so yes, there is a distrust. we see distrust in the public health literature. we see distrust still in music accounts of these sorts of things and the historical and sociological literature. you see that distrust goes way back. we across the 20th century. the black panther party was partly responding to that, to these issues of distrust. they wanted in the clinics to have doctors who are approachable, who were
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accountable to their patients, they would agree to communicate in certain ways with their patients, to treat them with respect and with appropriate care. and support of what the black panther party was doing was dealing with the issue of distrust by changing the dynamics of patient-doctor interaction. that was one way by making patients feel empowered when they encounter as opposed to always feeling kind of subjugated by the encounter. but one of the interesting things about the black panther party with regard to tuskegee is their health care work begins before tuskegee is revealed, and "the new york times" in july of 1972. so i think thinking about this anniversary, one of the things that we might want to think about the black panther party is the sort of set the stage and set the terms of the debate around issues of race and issues of mistrust and what can be done with it. and it was that conversation or that setting that the tuskegee revelation sort of into. so the black panther party had three, four years before
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tuskegee was revealed, had already been talking publicly about health issues and issues about race, health and mistrust. >> host: you attend the 45th anniversary of the black panther party. what was that like? >> guest: idea. the anniversaries our interest because people come from all of the country, different factions of the party, people who maybe 15 or 20 years ago would not be speaking to each other because they have different ideas about what the parties should have been. come from all of the country and sometimes all over the world. and they tell their stories. they tell what was useful for the book was what they call chapter history. so people with the remaining members of the chapters would come and talk about the work that they did and create sort of a collective account. and memory is very, he do anyú,, kind of historical work, it's piecemeal. what is interesting is one person was a i remember this, and the other person would either fill it in or corrected or these sorts of things. there's also lots of young people so there's scholars there like myself, there was also just
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young people who are interested and are activists who are interested in the legacy of the party. so it's a very eclectic dynamic, interesting setting. >> host: huey newton and bobby seale alive? >> guest: huey newton is deceased. he was killed in i believe the late 1980s. bobby seale is with us today. he still speaking about the black panthers work on a regular basis. >> host: and why did the party disband or why did it -- >> guest: i think for several reasons. one, there was the fbi's and counterintelligence program which was quite successful and enduring a few things, installing agent provocateurs within the party which created some of this discord that exist now in the party between different factions. they were successful in all intel program, just police repression. so people were dying, a part of a to write about in the book is that health programs, there's a way in which the health programs
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respond to the fact that members of the party were dying in armed conflicts with the police, with state authorities, federal authorities and the sorts of things. with that decimate the ranks of the part in a very fatal and material way, was partly why the party disbanded. and i think politics just change. things change. so the party ends in the early 1980s. the world's change between 1968 and 1980, and activists have it easier i think we know in the social movement literature and sociology, to be an activist when you're 18 or 20, you do have mortgaged we you don't have children. the life stakes can be often a lot lower for being an activist. and the stakes have been an activist are quite high. i think part of it was aging and the natural cycle of organizations as well. >> host: coming up on the 50th anniversary of the black panther party, is there another book from you on the party? >> guest: there's a not another book for me on the party but i continue to write about
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africa and american engagement with medical and science. >> host: alondra nelson, this is her book, "body and soul: the black panther party and the fight against medical discrimination." published by the university of minnesota. >> is there a nonfiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at booktv@c-span.org. or tweet us at twitter.com/booktv. >> recently booktv toward a new library of congress exhibit called books that shaped america. we will show you that exhibit here in just a minute, but we also want to issue an invitation to participate in an online discussion about books that shaped america, what books you think may be included or should be included. we'll show you what the library of congress came up with, and if you're interested in participating in an online discussion with us, e-mail us at
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booktv@c-span.org. now here's the tour. >> there's a new exhibit at the library of congress and it's called books that shaped america. booktv is taking a tour of that exhibit, and joining us is roberta shaffer who is an associate librarian for the library of congress. mr. shea for, why do you call the books that shaped america? >> well, we ask about books that shaped america as opposed to some of the other words he considered like changed america. because we think that books slowly have an impact on american society. and shaped seem to be the better word to imply that kind of competition. spent when you think of the word shape in which to say, what book in this exhibit comes to mind? >> that's the fattest part of this exhibit. know one book is shaping america. so many books have had such a profound influence on american culture and society. indeed, the very essence of what
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america is. and it would be improper to take one book from the 88 that are here spent okay, there are 88 books. the exhibit starts out with common sense. >> as it does. although the earliest book is actually ben franklin's book on electricity. that's 1751. so we have to books about commonsense initial. one is doctor spock's book on raising a child in a commonsense way. and, of course, thomas paine spoke that really kind of sparks or shaped the american revolution. >> when we see these books embodies all first editions very rare? >> they are not all first editions or very rare, although we have many books in our collection in our library of congress collection that would be first edition and very rare, if not one-of-a-kind. but with collected books are riding a brazen. some of them have inscriptions
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by other famous people or by the authors themselves. two books in this collection that i just adore our books that are part of the armed service book outreach, to people who are serving in the military. so we have two examples of folks that soldiers were sent. i believe now they are sent books to read at the war front on ipods and other things, but at least in the olden days speak what are the two books? >> i believe one of them is tarzan, i'm trying to think now what the other one is. my goodness spent when you think of it, in this exhibit a lot of novels. >> yes. and novels are critical part of american culture. not only by novels that people read, the common people read, but some very highbrow and very complex novels. some novels that appeal to people of all ages. some children's books that appeal to people of all ages. the "wizard of oz," charlotte
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web, hardly really -- >> and gone with the wind is here as well. how did those books shape america? >> many of them identify who we were becoming, and with the aspirations we have as a nation. others told about experiences that we had uniquely as americans, like the diaries of lewis and clark. many others really defined our dialect. huckleberry finn. talk and dialect. and so they really shaped not only our ideas but how we speak today. >> you also have some social cultural books and i want to ask you about those you mentioned doctor spock. there's a couple of good books in this collection, and a book called the big book, alcoholics anonymous. >> yeah, we also thought it was very important to look at nonfiction and books that either
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were self-help or kind of broke barriers of certain kind. so we looked across a broad spectrum of books that shaped america. we did not want to limit ourselves to a particular genre or a particular kind of book, or even a certain kind of offer or writing. we look for many books that were innovative, that kind chose america as an innovative country. as a country that looks for practical solutions that shared her experiences broadly, that used books and stories to inspire going to the frontier. and that could be literally or intellectual. >> here at the library of congress, are you in charge of the process of? >> that's an interesting question. it was doubtful a very large committee. with no chairperson, which i think is really interesting. we have a number of discussions as people brought forth titles. and believe it or not, it was
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not all that difficult to select these books. because i think as you imply, this is not a definitive list. there is no article the books that shaped america in the title of this exhibition. and so we really decided what we wanted to do was choose books that would get america talking about books. and that was not as difficult to find consensus on as may be choosing the 50 bucks or the 100 books. and so we did need a chairperson spent some of the books in have created social movements. i'm thinking either tarbell, rachel carson spent i think one of the interesting things about many of the books or is there not a great social movements that some either lead to legislation. so we see the jungle intercut and we know that really created the forerunner legislation through food and drug
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administration and create. so not on social movement but actually legislation. actually social change. spent and why 88? >> eighty-eight is really just where we decide to stop. we were worried about using a number that comment associated with a definitive list. so we avoided 10, 25 and 100. yarn that it was kind of up for grabs. and we got to 88 we were thinking, we think that's a good number. it won't get anyone the impression that we mean this is the 88. >> poetry, religious books, are the in your? >> they are. we have quite a few, friend to spend at least the century. so we've got walt whitman. we have allen ginsberg. so we really tried to be very clear that poetry has been an impressive part of american history, and that america is have been very committed to both writing and reading poetry.
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and i think that continues today. >> what about religious books? >> well, we do have a holographic the bible. a lot of the books, while they would necessarily be associated with a religion, have a moralistic or a kind of do good tone to them. and we really felt that that is more representative of america. than would be a particular religious books. so we tried to look at the values of america, her spiritual sort of persona, rather than looking at particular religious books. >> how did you get your start here at the library of congress? >> oh, my goodness. well, i started here over 30 years ago as the first special assistant to the law librarians, fairly fresh out of law school. i absolutely fell in love with the library of congress, and 30 plus years ago, as today, you cannot keep me aay.
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i'm going to work every morning. and i think that working here and being here surrounded by books, manuscripts, musical scores, movies, the whole gamut of what really is knowledge in america is such a thrill, and such a privilege, that you are really going to have trouble getting me to retire. >> is this exhibit open to the public and how long? >> it's entirely over to the public. it will be open through the end of september. but let's say you can't come to washington. we have a virtual version of our exhibit on our website, and part of this exhibit, part of this conversation is an open website where we are asking people from all over the world to comment on the books we've selected, but also to tell us what you think something we selected shouldn't be on our list. and even more important, why something you think should be on the list should be added to the
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list. and we want to hear from you. so far we've heard from over 5000 people, and we encourage everybody to go to our website, www.loc.gov/book fast and you will find the book of -- the list of the books but you also find the opportunity to put it very, very brief form of as what you think of the book and what should be on this list. >> the last book you have on your was published, india is 2002. >> yes come we can't decide to put a cutoff on a. we thought if we're really going to be looking at books that shaped america, we have to give them an opportunity, give books an opportunity to prove their worth in shaping america. so this is an organic endeavor by the library of congress. we intend to keep looking at books that keep shaping america. but we thought about a decade, that's a good place to stop. so since we're in 2012 now, let's stop at 2002 and we will
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keep revisiting it. >> two of the later bookshop in your, 1987 anastasia chavez, 2006 by guestco and, of course, randy's book had a huge influence. we talked about that earlier, on aids research and really sort of racing our consciousness about that terrible disease. and cesar chavez of course, a leading voice, a farmer could that really be leading voice of america. >> these books in the exhibit, where the best sellers in the time? >> many of them were and actually many of them continue to be and have not gone out of print. so even though that was a specific criterion, so many of them have been translated and carried american ideals across the world. >> i want to ask you about one of the specific book, and that was emily dickinson's book of poetry spent of course emily dickinson is a must-have american poet. but the particular book that we have here in the show is an art
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book. it's done by cooperative in cuba, and they have reproduced the book of poetry and have also made a facsimile of her house in amherst and the little tree. and it is made out of recycled material. emily dickinson, of course, is a phenomenal poet but we really didn't know about her or discover until the midnight team 50s when we finally were able to see her poems, or read her poems and love her poems and edited in in the way she admits. juli: was doing the editing? >> well, you know, those professional editors, they like to take the pan and make you can for. so for emily of all people, that was an awful constriction. >> books that shaped america is the name of the exhibit, and library of congress is located at first independent avenue in washington, d.c. right across from the nation's capital. >> so that's t